a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Carl Has a Life, Too

So I was reading an article yesterday about the terrible situation in New Orleans, with the streets flooding and the looters looting; you get an instant picture in your head, of immoral people crashing into stores and ripping off anything they can find. And a lot of them probably were.

But later in the same article, the writer talks with a guy who admits taking some food. He feels ashamed about it, but he was hungry. He's trapped in the city, he's trying to survive. It isn't always so black-and-white.

Screenplay characters should have that sort of depth. I don't care who the character is, he is motivated by a human need, and some of them are easy to identify with. They shouldn't be just one-note characters there to serve a function.

I always like scripts that unexpectedly bring together characters you wouldn't expect, to show us new sides of them as they interact with each other. There are a lot of good film examples too -- DeNiro and Pacino talking in HEAT, all the mobsters hanging out with Scorcese's mom in GOODFELLAS. Even bad guys have human sides, and it makes it more interesting to find them.

One of my pet peeves is that, in James Bond movies, there is inevitably the scene in which he escapes from the bad guy in his lair, kills a bunch of security guards and then the villain, and flees with the babe before the lair blows up. But who are these guards? They are probably just guys, trying to feed their families, who think their job is to guard a factory; likely they don't know there is something wrong going on there (and even if they do suspect something, well, it's a job, and Molly is in diapers and Penny needs braces and the guard (let's call him Carl) doesn't want them to go stay with their mom again, where everyone has to live in the same room and Carl's drinking problem always flares up).

So Carl works at this factory, which might be a little weird because it is hidden in an old volcano and the boss walks around stroking a cat, but hell, someone works for Martha Stewart too, and Carl's getting benefits, and the employee break room actually has a coffee machine that serves damn good coffee.

And then one day, some guy in a suit starts shooting people where Carl works. So Carl runs over, to try and stop him, and he shoots Carl too. Carl's dead. Daddy's not coming home.

I always thought it would be a great movie to have Carl's pissed off friends track down the guy in the suit; give them a lot of lively banter along the way, have them slap Miss Moneypenny around a little to get her to talk, and then maybe they realize that James Bond is just doing his job, and that maybe Carl should have been a bit more circumspect about where he works.

Or maybe they just kick James Bond's ass.


At 12:03 PM, Blogger Kira said...

Hehe :) Reminds me of the great Death Star contractor scene in CLERKS.

I always wondered who these supervillains got to build their lairs. I mean, Dr. No's pad has upholstered walls. You can't tell me he did his own wall-upholstery.

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Julie O. said...

You can call yourself whatever you like, but from now on, you're "Scott the Writer," to me.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

Check out the delete scenes from the first "Austin Powers" for a cinematic essay on that very same subject.

(I'm not positive it made it to the DVD, actually, I saw it on a rough cut many, many years ago...)

Basically, after one of Dr. Evil's henchmen gets mowed down during a big fight (actually, run over by a steamroller, IRRC), we cut to a suburban home...

A little boy comes home to greet his mother. She gets a phone call, informing him that her husband (the kid's stepfather) has been killed in the line of duty. The kid is crushed (he was just like a real father to him!) and the mother muses that,

"No one ever thinks of the family of a henchman."

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Wow. I can see how they might have worried that that would distract from the storyline (though I love how they made the guy the kid's stepfather -- I guess if he was the kid's real father, that would have crossed some even more serious non-comedy line).

One more excuse for me not to write Carl's story. But then again, maybe we need it now more than ever.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was also that episode of the Simpsons, where Homer gets a great new job, moves his family to the remote company campus and never realizes that his fantastic new boss (voice of Albert Brooks) is a Bond movie villain.

Harry C

At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Peter C. Hayward said...

"I'm not positive it made it to the DVD, actually, I saw it on a rough cut many, many years ago..."

Actually, the scene you're talking about is in the actual movie. There's two of them - the surburban house, and then later a scene at Hooters where they're having an engagement party for John Smith, another of the henchmen. I immediately thought of it when I read this.

Also, it was a step father because I think the aim was to pour as much grief on the kid as possible.

"But ever since Dad left, Steve's been just like a father to me!"

At 12:01 PM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Great post and.. ahem.. secondary title I'd like to pilfer.

Star Wars, Episode Negative Two, The Revenge of Carl's Pissed Off Friends.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3, The Revenge of Carl's Pissed Off Friends.

Law & Order, ROCPOF

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Dave said...

One of the great storylines in Kim Possible is a guy who runs a henchman employment agency. It's pretty funny.


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